Pharmacist's exposure to lawsuits has dramatically increased in direct proportion to the added responsibility pharmacists have accepted as drug information experts. The trend of increasing the scope of pharmacy practice has also increased the scope of professional liability. Pharmacists traditionally were classified as "drug distributors". Pharmacists simply followed the physician's verbal or written orders, and if injury occurred because of a mistake in drug therapy (interaction, allergy, sub-optimal therapy, etc.), the physician, and not the pharmacist was held liable. This was due to what is called the "learned intermediary doctrine". This basic concept means the party who possesses the most knowledge assumes the liability and responsibility. However, this responsibility is now coming to rest with the pharmacists. It is now assumed that the pharmacist, and not the physician, is the expert in medications and drug therapy.
As pharmacists now have the ability and knowledge to perform intensive searches for drug interactions, allergies, and optimal therapy, they are expected to make the best professional judgments possible, and are found to liable when this duty is not performed. Pharmacists may even be held liable for faulty over the counter medication advice and advice on treatment of minor illnesses and disease. It is imperative that all pharmacy professionals obtain professional liability insurance to limit their risk. Even if your employer covers you with liability insurance, it is advisable to obtain coverage independently. Often, the hospital or chain pharmacy where you work will not have your (the pharmacist's) best interest in mind when dealing with liability issues. Their lawyers may very well paint the pharmacist as the "scapegoat" in order to direct blame and responsibility away from themselves.
Pharmacists professional liability insurance is still affordable. Rates of less than $200 per year for $3 million dollars in coverage can be found. The same amount of coverage would cost nearly $200,000 for some physician specialties, such as the OB/GYN practice area. For the best deals, check rates at several different reputable pharmacy liability insurance carriers.